With the snow-clad peak of Kanchenjunga overlooking the vast expanse of finely manicured tea estates, the queen of hills “Darjeeling” allures travellers all year round. Lush green vistas swaying in the melody of floating clouds paving way for ethereal views of the hilly terrain; Darjeeling makes it for charismatic mountain escapade.
Things to do :
Start your day prior to sunrise, ask your hotel manager to arrange a car to visit Tiger Hill. It is located at the distance of 13 Km from the town. Once you reach there, hold on your breaths for an amazing aurora. The sunray falls directly on top of Kanchenjunga painting it with soft orange hue has its own charm.
Descending back to Darjeeling, on the way you will cross Ghoom (2,225 m), park your car and get down to visit Ghoom Monastery which truly gives the real essence of this hill station with tranquillity at its finest. With aesthetic intricate interiors and exotic views of the valley, spending an afternoon here guarantees much-needed peace and calm which you can never experience in city life.
Now, after a soul reconciliation at the monastery, let’s elect for little fun and that will be a Toy Train ride from ghoom to Batasia loop. If you are not willing for the train ride, take a cab to the destination. (20 min from Darjeeling). There is no other better place to get a panoramic view of Darjeeling’s landscape including the hill town and snow cover peaks of the eastern Himalayas with the majestic Kanchenjunga on one side. And all this from lovely flower garden around which the toy train track is laid. So basically in one word its Instagram worthy place. Your selfies will look great almost in every angle.
The train stops for about 15-20 min so you have the opportunity to recreate “chaiyya chaiyya” in the hills. The park timing is 5 am to 8 pm and the entry fee is 15/- per person.
Now it’s time for a soothing evening at Peace Pagoda and Japanese Temple located at the west point of Darjeeling. The vehicles can’t go further after a certain point so from there it’s a melancholic 30-minute walk. This is the best place to spend some time with yourself, calm down your soul amidst the hill. With beautiful artwork showcasing various birth of Buddha accompanied by the rhythm of hand drum reecho across the premise, will be an enthralling experience.
If you are an animal lover then Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park is the perfect place where you can see a plethora of gratifying animals. This is where you can see some high altitude alluring Himalayan animals along with some endangered species that are rarely seen somewhere else in the world. It spans across 67.5 acres so if you can to see the park properly it’s gonna take a whole day. Darjeeling zoo is now amongst the best zoos in the world and India’s first zoo to receive an international award ‘The Earth Heroes’ in 2014; so don’t discount on Darjeeling zoo. Inside you will also come across the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. It was built to commemorate the success of Sherpa Tenzing Norgay to conquest Mt. Everest. Trek lover will definitely find it bewitching. There’s also a souvenir shop from where you can buy trekking stuff, Himalayan craft, gems and other staff.
Open hour for the zoo – Daily (Thursday closed) 8:30 am to 4:30 pm in the summer, and in winter it open till 4 pm.
Open hours for HMI – daily during the tourist season from 9 am to 1 pm, and 2 pm to 5 pm. During offseasons, it remains closed on Tuesdays.
Zoo and HMI are inside the same complex and you should plan for a combined visit. Entry fee is 60/- per person (zoo+HMI).
Places To Eat :
When on the holiday, vacating and food are directly proportional with each other. There should be no compromisation in trying out local delicacies. From thai, Tibetan to Chinese and good old north Indian delights, strolling along the much-framed mall road. With large varieties of cuisines, Darjeeling caters to plenty of small shacks serving scrumptious food along with cosy vintage ambience.
- Keventers is where you will get a convenient English breakfast. Outdoor seating is available so that you can enjoy your breakfast with the incredible Sierra in the background. Located on Nehru Road
- Kunga Restaurant serves you scintillating Tibetan food. Located right on the road for Chowrasta.
- Frank Ross cafe is the place for vegetarians. They have a wide variety of vegetarian dishes. Enjoy the food with an idyllic view.
- Glenary’s Bakery Restaurant & Pub feels like contemporary Paris cafes serving mouth-watering bakeries. Other food options are also available. However being quite a high-end restaurant you must try the cakes they make.
- Nathmull tea shop is the ultimatum for tea lovers. You can taste a variety of tea flavours and get the essence as if you are standing in the middle of the tea garden. You can buy your favourite stash of tea here.
What kind of vacation it is if you don’t shop for yourself and for your loved ones !? Shopping has always been my second priority prior to location visits. Mall road chowk bazar is the ultimate shopping destination. From handmade craft items, paintings, woollen garment, antique jewellery to pashmina shawls everything is in reach of your hand. You can feel the frenzy vibe. So it’s time for “GOOD VIBES ONLY”.Ghoom monastery market is perfect to buy Tibetan curios and artefacts like a prayer wheel, flags, laughing Buddha, and other stuff.
How To Reach :
Train: There are direct trains available from metro cities to NJP (New Jalpaiguri). Once you reach there, you can take a shuttle cab or rent a personal cab up to Darjeeling. Bus and toy train facility are also available.
Air: Nearest airport for Darjeeling is Bagdogra. From there it’s upon you which mode of transport you want to take. Reserve cab, shared jeep/cab bus or toy train.
NJP/Bagdogra TO Darjeeling
NJP/Bagdogra to Darjeeling (small car): Rs 1850
NJP/Bagdogra to Darjeeling (large car): Rs 2200
Shared Jeep (NJP station to Darjeeling): Rs 150 per seat
Shared Jeep (NJP bus stand to Darjeeling): Rs 130 per seat
Bus (Siliguri to Darjeeling): Rs 100 per person
By car, it takes 4-5 hrs approx and by bus around 5 hrs.
NJP Station TO Siliguri bus stand
Autorickshaw: Rs 90 (up to 3 people, 10 minutes)
Cycle rickshaw fare: Rs 50 (2 people, 30 minutes)
Taxi : Rs 250 (4 persons)
NJP to Darjeeling (one way, about 87 km) First class: Rs 1285
Kurseong to Darjeeling (one way) First class: Rs 680
Second class: Rs 60
Duration from NJP to Darjeeling is 8 hrs approx
Duration from kurseong to Darjeeling is 4 – 4:30 Hrs
Where to stay:
There are plenty of stays available in Darjeeling town and also in nearby places.
Budget Hotel: (near mall road)
- Hotel north star
- Hotel Broadway
- Hotel Pineridge
- Hotel seven seventeen
Luxury Hotel: ( near Mall road)
- Hotel Sonar Bangla
- Central Nirvana Resort
- Central Heritage Resort
- Darjeeling Tourist Lodge
- The retreat
Super Luxury Hotels: (near mall road)
- Summit yashshree suites & spa
- Mayfair Hotel
- R.J resorts
- The Elgin
If you don’t like to stay in hotels, you have the option to stay in Airbnb. They are also very much convenient. There will be some house policies and you gotta rent least for 2 nights.